This chapter begins by considering the 'mass culture' critique of popular culture which in its various liberal and radical incarnations presented young people as passive consumers, helplessly manipulated by commercial industries. It explores debates about young people's capacity to be creative and innovative media-users. Subcultural theory made a major contribution to the study of young people's lives. Subcultural theory also made a valuable challenge to assumptions that young people shared a common, generationally-based 'youth culture'. Hodkinson acknowledged that, amid the frenetic media flows of contemporary culture, stylistic boundaries had become less clear-cut; but he insisted that goths were still ‘characterized more by their substance than by their fluidity’. During the 1970s subcultural theory had focused on the spectacular styles of groups such as skinheads and punks. But during the late 1980s and early 1990s many researchers turned attention to young people’s everyday practices of media consumption.